With the NHL Draft lottery set to take place tomorrow night, leave it to Central Scouting to give teams their final rankings so everyone knows who they’re gunning for a the draft in June.
It’s probably not a surprise to anyone who has followed the player draft rankings all year, but Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov is still the No. 1 North American player to be taken this year courtesy of NHL.com. The NHL Central Scouting Service put out their final listing of North American players ahead of the June draft and Yakupov, like he did before the season and at the mid-term, took home the top spot.
At 5’10” 190 pounds, Yakupov isn’t physically imposing, but according to Mike Morreale of NHL.com, he’s earning comparisons to Pavel Bure with his speed and scoring ability. At 18-years-old, Yakupov could be the piece any of the lottery teams need to get a game-changing scorer.
Rounding out the top-five skaters on the Central Scouting list, defenseman Ryan Murray is the new No.2 swapping spots with forward Mikhail Grigorenko. Forward Alex Galchenyuk sits fourth while defenseman Morgan Rielly is fifth. Forward Filip Forsberg topped Central Scouting’s list of European skaters. Forsberg is expected to be in talk for one of the lottery picks this year as well.
Who gets to snag Yakupov? The Blue Jackets have the best shot of winning the draft lottery and picking first while Edmonton, Montreal, the New York Islanders, and Toronto round out the group with a shot at the top pick. Any team can win the lottery, but only teams in the bottom five have a shot at the first pick overall.
Check out this video from NHL.com on Yakupov:
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.